Notebooks, Books, Paper

Dear Daniel,

This is hardly the letter you’ve been asking for, much less in the form you were expecting and even lesser — the content. But these are the words I have right now and I feel a need to say them to you and in written form. So here we go.

My Marie Kondo-ing has stopped and for the greater part of a month (maybe more?) I just sort of dropped everything in its place. So I resolved today to continue where I left off, on the category of paper. But what I have the most of is paper. As you well know. So I came across not 1 or 2 diaries, but FIFTEEN! Most of my old diaries are incomplete or blank and even reiterations of one another (as I used to “update” each diary on the same night as if each one were an individual friend).

The oldest diary I found is from 2000. One might be older but I didn’t bother looking at the dates. A lot of writing happened in the year 2001 when I was 12 and mostly I wrote about learning HTML and all my numerous websites and how I was meeting web-designers online, etc.

Most of the diaries can be saved because the majority of the pages are blank and I’m sure I can use some of them… right?? But the almost complete ones… the diaries whose purpose has been fulfilled, I’m finding it extremely hard to let go. I can’t bring myself to throw them away. And I know it’s because I treasure the past so much when I should instead be looking to the future. But memories mean so much to me and I don’t know what to do.

Reading things about my past recalls a time when I was a little bit more unaware of the world, a little more focused on creation and creativity and my most extreme worry was learning tables (now defunct), frames, and Paintshop Pro 7. I just want to be there, in those moments, again. The present feels so wrought with worry that I can’t even express it. The possibility of youth just seems so dwindled I’m even crying right now.

I think the romance in letters only comes from distance. We see each other every day, share our life every day but we have to concern ourselves with dishes, and walking the dog, and real things. Time is moving too quickly. I don’t want to focus on real things — I want to focus on the enjoyment there rarely seems to be time for anymore.

I know they’re just diaries. I know they’re the past. But I like looking back at written history and remembering. All those small insignificant things I wrote about (“I made a friend today,” “I went to Knott’s Berry Farm,” etc.) seem so much more monumental because I otherwise would never have remembered. And my appreciation for those captured memories is too great.

It’s hard living a minimal life. But I know once I get rid of some of these excesses then it will be easier to focus on the present and to an extent, look to the future to find my joy. For example, instead of being inundated by 200 books, if I had a collection of 20 it would be easier to go pick out a book and say, “Ah I know this is something I am going to enjoy reading.” The less mess there is to sort through, the easier the joy. But I’m just afraid some treasure will get mixed in with the mess. And I just can’t continue on. I’m far too emotional about paper. It feels like I’m throwing away every accomplishment and with it comes a fear that I will have no new accomplishments.

It’s funny how much more easily I am able to toss anything and everything else into the garbage but paper, but that’s because I know hardly anything else in this life is rare. There exists countless other copies and versions of just about everything. But not my personal past. That is unique and it cannot be replicated. But it can be forgotten. I don’t want to forget. Little else captures memories like the written form. Not even photos do that for me.

I need lessons in letting go. Or a storage plan for the past.

Yesterday I went to see Mr. Holmes finally. It’s about Sherlock Holmes, in a retired state, attempting to recall his last case but he is unable. He is senile and dying. This is something like my fear: not being able to remember something important. Because 10 years from now, 20, 30 years — how do you know what will have been important? Sherlock regrets not having written the story of his last case sooner and only through much hardship does he finally recall the last of his work. (I was almost in the theater alone and then some really old man came in. Apropos.)

Anyway, I’ll see you later tonight. We might have to change the movie we watch tonight but with so many great films out right now I think we’ll be OK.

-Bri

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